United States v. Kirby

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtFIELD
Citation7 Wall. 482,19 L.Ed. 278,74 U.S. 482
Decision Date01 December 1868
PartiesUNITED STATES v. KIRBY

74 U.S. 482
19 L.Ed. 278
7 Wall. 482
UNITED STATES
v.
KIRBY.
December Term, 1868

Page 483

THE defendants were indicted for knowingly and wilfully obstructing and retarding the passage of the mail and of a mail carrier, in the District Court for the District of Kentucky. The case was certified to the Circuit Court for that district.

The indictment was founded upon the ninth section of the act of Congress, of March 3, 1825, 'to reduce into one the several acts establishing and regulating the post office department,' which provides 'that, if any person shall knowingly and wilfully obstruct or retard the passage of the mail, or of any driver or carrier, or of any horse or carriage carrying the same, he shall, upon conviction, for every such offence, pay a fine not exceeding one hundred dollars; and if any ferryman shall, by wilful negligence, or refusal to transport the mail across the ferry, delay the same, be shall forfeit and pay, for every ten minutes that the same shall be so delayed, a sum not exceeding ten dollars.'1

The indictment contained four counts, and charged the defendants with knowingly and wilfully obstructing the passage of the mail of the United States, in the district of Kentucky, on the first of February, 1867, contrary to the act of Congress; and with knowingly and wilfully obstructing and retarding at the same time in that district, the passage of one Farris, a carrier of the mail, while engaged in the performance of this duty; and with knowingly and wilfully retarding

Page 484

at the same time in that district, the passage of the steamboat General Buell, which was then carrying the mail of the United States from the city of Louisville, in Kentucky, to the city of Cincinnati, in Ohio.

To this indictment the defendants, among other things, pleaded specially to the effect, that at the September Term, 1866, of the Circuit Court of Gallation County, in the State of Kentucky, which was a court of competent jurisdiction, two indictments were found by the grand jury of the county against the said Farris for murder; that by order of the court bench warrants were issued upon these indictments, and placed in the hands of Kirby, one of the defendants, who was then sheriff of the county, commanding him to arrest the said Farris and bring him before the court to answer the indictments; that in obedience to these warrants he arrested Farris, and was accompanied by the other defendants as a posse, who were lawfully summoned to assist him in effecting the arrest; that they entered the steamboat Buell to make the arrest, and only used such force as was necessary to accomplish this end; and that they acted without any intent or purpose to obstruct or retard the mail, or the passage of the steamer. To this plea the district attorney of the United States demurred, and upon the argument of the demurrer two questions arose:

First. Whether the arrest of the mail-carrier upon the bench warrants from the Circuit Court of Kentucky was, under the circumstances, an obstruction of the mail within the meaning of the act of Congress.

Second. Whether the arrest was obstructing or retarding the passage of a carrier of the mail within the meaning of that act....

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367 practice notes
  • Professional Eng. v. State Personnel Bd., No. C028402.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • July 11, 2001
    ...Lorenzen (1900) 128 Cal. 431, 439-440, 61 P. 68, quoting Justice Field's decision in U.S. v. Kirby (1868) 74 U.S. [7 Wall] 482, 486-487 [19 L.Ed. 278, 280].) We eschew an interpretation creating a constitutional doubt, if possible. (Palermo v. Stockton Theatres, Inc. (1948) 32 Cal.2d 53, 60......
  • HOLIDAY v. U.S., No. 95-CF-1054
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • July 30, 1996
    ...intended exceptions to its language, which would avoid results of this character. United States v. Kirby, 74 U.S. (7 Wall) 482, 486-87, 19 L.Ed. 278 (1868) (emphasis added). Justice Chase's language for the Court in Noonan v. Bradley, 76 U.S. (9 Wall.) 394, 19 L.Ed. 757 (1869), a case invol......
  • United States v. Congress of Industrial Organizations, No. 695
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 21, 1948
    ...and, particularly, within the Congressional District in which this election is scheduled to take place.' 5 United States v. Kirby, 7 Wall. 482, 486, 487, 19 L.Ed. 278; Hawaii v. Mankichi, 190 U.S. 197, 211, 23 S.Ct. 787, 788, 47 L.Ed. 1016; Fort Smith & W.R. Co. v. Mills, 253 U.S. 206, 209,......
  • United States v. Thompson, No. 15–CR–80 (S–2)(ILG).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • October 28, 2015
    ...v. Department of Justice, 491 U.S. 440, 454, 109 S.Ct. 2558, 105 L.Ed.2d 377 (1989) ; United States v. Kirby, 74 U.S. (7 Wall.) 482, 487, 19 L.Ed. 278 (1868).Uniquely apt to this exercise in statutory construction is an infrequently cited felicitous reflection by Judge Learned Hand in Unite......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
363 cases
  • Professional Eng. v. State Personnel Bd., No. C028402.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • July 11, 2001
    ...Lorenzen (1900) 128 Cal. 431, 439-440, 61 P. 68, quoting Justice Field's decision in U.S. v. Kirby (1868) 74 U.S. [7 Wall] 482, 486-487 [19 L.Ed. 278, 280].) We eschew an interpretation creating a constitutional doubt, if possible. (Palermo v. Stockton Theatres, Inc. (1948) 32 Cal.2d 53, 60......
  • United States v. Fontaine, No. 11–2602.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • August 28, 2012
    ...that the legislature intended exceptions to its language, which would avoid [absurd]” results. Id. at 225 (quoting United States v. Kirby, 74 U.S. 482, 486–87, 7 Wall. 482, 19 L.Ed. 278 (1868)); see, e.g., United States v. Carson, 455 F.3d 336, 385 n. 44 (D.C.Cir.2006) (reaching “common sen......
  • Crooker v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms, No. 80-1278
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • December 16, 1981
    ...exceptions to its language, which would avoid results of this character." United States v. Kirby, 74 U.S. (7 Wall.) 482, 486-87, 19 L.Ed. 278 (1868); see Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11, 39, 25 S.Ct. 358, 366, 49 L.Ed. 643 The canon in favor of strict construction is not an inex......
  • HOLIDAY v. U.S., No. 95-CF-1054
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • July 30, 1996
    ...intended exceptions to its language, which would avoid results of this character. United States v. Kirby, 74 U.S. (7 Wall) 482, 486-87, 19 L.Ed. 278 (1868) (emphasis added). Justice Chase's language for the Court in Noonan v. Bradley, 76 U.S. (9 Wall.) 394, 19 L.Ed. 757 (1869), a case invol......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2 books & journal articles
  • Pregnancy’s Risks and the Health Exception in Abortion Jurisprudence
    • United States
    • Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law Nbr. XXII-1, October 2020
    • October 1, 2020
    ...in contexts beyond criminal sanctions.140 134. Jacobson, 197 U.S. at 38–39. 135. Id. 136. Id. at 39 (quoting United States v. Kirby, 74 U.S. 482, 483 (1868)). 137. Id. at 38-39. 138. U.S. CONST. amend. VII. 139. See, e.g., Baze v. Rees, 553 U.S. 35, 41 (2008). 140. See Casey, 505 U.S. at 84......
  • Crimes Mala in Se: An Equity-Based Definition
    • United States
    • Criminal Justice Policy Review Nbr. 17-3, September 2006
    • September 1, 2006
    ...legal institutions? Behavioral Sciences & the Law,19, 215-235.United States v. Balint et al., 258 U.S. 250 (1922).United States v. Kirby,74 U.S. 482 (1932).Utne, M. K., & Hatfield, E. (1978).Equity theory and restitution programming. In B. Galaway & J. Hudson(Eds.), Offender restitution and......

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